When it comes to financial matters, sometimes we wish they would just go away. Sometimes it’s a matter of keeping it all organized: between the student loan bills, the house payment and the car payments, it can seem overwhelming. Other times, it’s about stretching what little there might be to go around. Whatever the issue, it’s important to set up a routine with your money. Setting up a routine sets you up for success and keeps you from being surprised each month that the Internet bill really has to be paid, yet again.
Here are some steps you can take to optimize your weekly money spending (and receiving) routine.
1. Look over your expenses.
Go through each of your monthly expenses and categorize them. It’s important to set up priorities and determine how you want to pay your bills. Paying different bills each week will help you do this. If your rent is due on the first of the month, schedule that payment for the last week of every month and so forth. If you expect to pay a certain amount in bills at end of each week, you’ll be more mentally prepared for it when it happens.
2. Pay bills as they arrive.
Instead of blasting out a bunch of cash every payday, pay each bill as it arrives. You can do this very easily by automating your bill payments. Paying your bills this way keeps you from ever “missing” that money. However, send yourself a reminder before it happens! If you forget and you take that money out ahead of time, you might overdraft your account. Paying your bills on time keeps your credit score up and helps you keep ahead of any late fees or extra charges you might incur otherwise.
3. Go over the budget and look for places to save.
Once you go over your expenses, if you feel like you’re struggling to make ends meet, look for places where you can save. If you’re not sure if there are expenses you can cut, try and write down all of your expenditures for one month in a notebook. All of them. Every latte you buy at a coffee shop and every magazine at a store. Write down every single time you spend money or swipe a card. Doing this will give you a real idea of where your money goes — and where you can cut back, if need be.
4. Keep a personal money statement going.
At the beginning of the month, start a monthly money statement. You can do this in a spreadsheet on the computer or just a piece of paper that you pin to the bulletin board. Write down your goals, such as paying towards a debt, saving money for an emergency fund, saving towards the purchase of a car, that sort of thing. Each week, square up the statement, writing down for each week how much you contributed to those accounts or saved towards a certain goal. Write down next to each goal the motivation to pursue that goal. Use a quote or statement of affirmation, if it helps. Try something like, “Pay yourself first. You’re worth it. And your grand kids will thank you.”
5. Revamp your routine as necessary.
After an initial trial period, go over your routine and revamp it. Maybe paying that one bill at the beginning of the month just didn’t work out. Maybe you forgot about another bill. Perhaps you were a little ambitious with your saving plan. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to adjust accordingly. And don’t forget to be flexible too. Life changes, you need to be able to adapt your weekly money routine to new things. Also, don’t forget to change a bit with the seasons. If you do a lot more visiting or vacationing in the summer, adjust your plan for that as well!
Featured photo credit: University of Utah via unews.utah.edu